A flowering shrub named Lantana, very popular in desert climates, has always fascinated me. We used to have one in our backyard, and from time to time we cut her down to the bare bones. All that was left were leafless twigs, a quite depressing sight to any gardener. But wait – if you came back in less than a week, then voilà: brand-new sprouting little leaves are now covering the sticks. I guess this could count as an example for: “struck down, but not destroyed!”
Praying to God will give us a different outlook. God will bless us with a vision when there’s just brown and naked soil all around us. Opening our eyes, He lets us see the signs of spring in the middle of a long and dreary winter. We come across wintry situations everywhere in the Bible, probably because life’s dark seasons, as much as we hate them, happen to everybody; God encourages us to look up in those situations, just as He encouraged Prophet Elisha and his servant.
In the second book of Kings we read how Elisha befriended King Joram. King Joram’s legislature in Israel lasted around 10 years, between 850-840 BC. During that time war broke out between Aram-Damascus and Israel. When King Joram appeared to be at an advantage, the enemy investigated the matter and soon found out that it was Prophet Elisha’s doing who revealed their plans to Israel’s king on several occasions. Once the enemy got wind of the situation, they threatened to kill Elisha. So, under night cover an army of soldiers closed in on Dothan, Elisha’s hometown, and in the morning Dothan was militarily surrounded with no way out. Terrified, Elisha’s servant addressed the situation with his master. Following is an excerpt of the ensuing conversation (2 King 6:15-17):
“‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’
And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
It is all a matter of perspective! Of course there’s virtually no perspective when we are blind to the things that are actually working for us. In the end, we all need the Lord to remove our blinders, just as He did for Prophet Elisha’s servant. Have you ever been in a situation with your back to the wall and no way to go? God is famous for opening up new ways. After a mass-exodus out of Egypt, God led half a million people through uninhabitable wilderness for a time period extending to four decades. One of the most striking transits during that time was the hike of the young nation of Israel through the Red Sea.
If God can take care of half a million people in the Sinai Desert, He can take care of you and me in life’s bleak situations. If we are in the dark and can’t see the light, we need to pray to the Light of the World, Jesus. As Jesus reveals Himself to us, we will begin to see the world in a different light. We will experience hope. We will see the proverbial rose hidden beneath the deepest snows. To see that rose we must believe.
“Beneath the deepest snows,
The secret of a rose
Is merely that it knows
You must believe in Spring!” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Jacques Demy, Michel Legrand)